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Channeling Empathy

by Rebecca Kowalewicz, VP Digital

With the majority of Americans concerned about their online privacy, and states like California taking measures to ensure that digital consumers are protected, marketers need to be fully aware of laws that not only affect how we advertise, but that could also cost us money if we fail to comply.

Channeling empathy in your brand strategy has an important role in modern marketing. It’s about understanding your customers and feeling what they feel as consumers and as everyday people. At a time when brands are reevaluating how they connect to their audiences, channeling empathy in your brand strategy should be a cornerstone of your online efforts moving forward.

So, how exactly can you channel empathy in your brand strategy and do so effectively? It all begins with your customer.

Understanding Your Customer: As humans, we feel empathy for all sorts of reasons. But it is understanding your customer that will inform the empathy you have for them, their challenges, and their unique stories. Brands are multifaceted, but at their core, they offer solutions to a problem.

What problems do your customers face?

What value can you provide to help ease or erase their dilemma?

Listen to feedback—good and bad. Whether it is a review on your own business page or in the comments section on a competitor’s Instagram, there’s so much to learn about customers, even if they aren’t your own (yet!). Ultimately, you’re not in the business of selling products, you’re in the business of solving problems. Understanding that this is a consumer’s most likely view of your brand, let it inform your product, your sales, your marketing, your message, and your empathy for them. You’ll be a better brand for it.

Implementing Empathy: One way to start channeling empathy in your brand strategy is to create what is known as an empathy map. It’s a technique used to better understand your customers—even without their direct input. Create a persona that captures your average customer or study a real-life customer and try to answer the following questions. Just remember to remove yourself and your biases completely so you can answer through the eyes and ears of your customer, unapologetically.

• What does my customer think and feel (and when do they feel this way)?

• What does my customer see, hear, and feel when engaging with my brand?

• What people, places, or things are influencing my customer?

• What behavior do I observe of my customer?

• What are my customer’s actions?

• What are my customer’s desires?

• What are my customer’s fears?

Creating personas that reflect your customers will help familiarize yourself with their habits, desires, pain points, and other variables that ultimately influence their purchase decisions. By staying ahead with these things in mind, you’ll be better able to market and serve your customers because you’ll be more in tune with what they’re thinking, feeling, and needing.

Channeling Empathy Through Social Good: Empathy can also be exercised through brand activism and social good. If your business is charitable, casually showcasing good works can be favorable. Taking a stance on a social, political, or environmental issues can establish empathy for more than your customers, but for all. People want to believe in the brands they follow (and even the brands they don’t). They want to know they’re doing good for others, too.

Channeling empathy in your brand strategy doesn’t have to be directed at only people. If you’re in the cosmetic industry, your brand can have empathy for animals by committing to cruelty-free products. You can have empathy for the environment, for the economy, for anything you feel organically inclined to help or have an affinity for.

Showcase your good works. Don’t be afraid to share with your customers the good things you’re working on or have helped accomplish. It’s part of your story—and that’s a story your customers will want to be a part of, too.

As originally published on Clearbridge Branding Agency is a digital marketing agency located in Glassboro. Visit

Digital Digest